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Drum Center of Portsmouth Blog

  • The Characteristics of a Great Drummer

    For as long as there has been music, there have been drummers. You might wonder why it is that some drummers are passable at best, while others are greatly skilled and quickly rise to fame. What sets these select few apart? Is it natural born talent? Maybe it was money and using better equipment? Perhaps they took lessons from other experts? Maybe there is some magical training technique that once mastered, makes you great?

    The obvious answer to all of these is no. The greats are great because of their hard work and tireless practice. But what drove them to practice and work so hard? Well, that comes down to a few key character traits, and there are some that all great drummers have in common. The experts have weighed in, and these are the characteristics that all great drummers have.

    Soft Skills

    These are personality traits that you don’t actively practice but strive to improve over time. Some people have them in spades, and others have a lot of one or the other. No one is perfect, so everyone has some room to improve in all of these categories, even the best of drummers.

    1. Persistence  

    Persistence is the key to all things. If drumming is something you truly care about and want to be good at, only persistence will get you to where you want to be. It will drive you to work hard, to push yourself, to practice, and to jump at opportunities. It will be what keeps you going when things get tough – and they inevitably will. The greats aren’t great because they’ve never faced challenge or adversity. They are great because they overcame it.

    2. Patience

    With persistence must also come patience. Your skill will not suddenly appear overnight. It’s going to take thousands of hours of practice, and this practice will not always be the most exciting. You won’t always be learning new songs or techniques. In fact, you should spend a lot of time on the rudiments. No matter how experienced you are, there is always something to learn from revisiting the rudiments. Be patient in your practice and put good effort into everything you do.

    3. Passion

    Since you’re going to spend a significant portion of your time practicing and growing your skills, it would serve you well to be passionate about what you’re doing. Passion will drive you to keep going. It will drive you to put yourself out there and to take risks. Greats didn’t become famous by always playing it safe. Sometimes, their passion pushed them to take risks.

    Remember, passion doesn’t have to be something that you start out with. In fact, your passion for drumming should develop and deepen over the years. It will grow with your knowledge and appreciation of the art form.

    4.  Know How to Capitalize on Constructive Criticism

    This is another soft skill that will benefit you in multiple aspects of life. All great drummers must not only know how to take constructive criticism, but they also must know how to make the most of it. This starts with seeing the criticism for what it really it. Put aside feelings of defensiveness and offense and recognize well-intended advice. Consider its merits, and maybe even give it a try. You can always go back to what you were doing or try something else if it doesn’t work out.

    Hard Skills

    Hard skills are those that you can quantify, actively practice, and improve upon.

    5. Feel

    Feel is sort of hard to define, but it is both a characteristic and a skill that you have to practice. It’s all about your sense of timing, and how you manipulate the beat and time of a piece. Some have a greater knack for this than others, but you can practice by getting intimately familiar with 8th and 16th notes. Don’t be afraid to experiment as you go – developing your sense of feel is a lifelong process.

    6. Adaptability

    Adaptability is a good trait to have in all things. But because we humans are creatures of habit, it is also one of the hardest to master. If you can learn to be flexible and adaptable in your drumming, you’ll be better suited to tackle any challenge that comes your way.

    Adapting can take many forms. Maybe you need to play on a kit that has parts you don’t normally use, and you have to adapt to different kits. Or maybe your bandmates want to speed up or slow down a tempo. You’ll have to adapt not only to different tempos but to playing with other musicians.

    You become more adaptable by pushing yourself and stepping out of your comfort zone. This is a skill that also translates outside of drumming and will benefit you in almost any aspect of life.

    7. Time Keeping

    One of the drummer’s main responsibilities in a band is to keep time. It can be a difficult skill to master at first, but don’t shy away from using available tools like a metronome. A great drummer keeps track of and measures time. If the timing is off, you must also speak up. If you don’t notice it, chances are that no one else will either.

    8. Active Listening

    One of the most important things any musician can do is learn how to listen. It seems obvious, but a great drummer always makes sure to listen to and get an overall understanding of the song before they jump in. It is critical to understand the song as a whole if you are to build effective transitions and sections. Don’t just do random crashes and fills. Consider each bar, verse, and section and focus on what best complements the song.

    If you read this and feel as though you may be lacking in one or more areas, don’t despair. Remember that people and their character traits are not static – they are ever changing and growing. If you think you need improvement in some categories, try to set some goals and make a mindful effort to help yourself get better.

  • How to Choose the Best Drum Set for Your Band

    Drums have been around pretty much as long as humans have. Research shows they were one of the very first instruments ever made, and they appear in almost every culture. Over the years, we’ve made countless improvements that have led to today’s infinite selection of drums.

    It’s great to have options but having so many can make it hard to pick the set that will be perfect for you and your band. The guide below provides some basic information you’ll need to get started.

    Determine Your Needs

    Before you start assembling your drum set, you need to sit down with your band members and discuss your needs. Some factors to consider are:

    • Type of music
    • Available space
    • How you will transport your equipment
    • What type of venues you’ll need it for
    • How much you are willing to spend
    • And your level of experience

    Before you buy, it might be helpful to test out some drums with your band members present. This will help to make sure they all like the sound and tone that the set makes.

    Breaking It Down: The Anatomy of a Drum Set

    In order to be able to find the right drum set for your band, you first need a thorough understanding of all the different components that go into it. It’s the same as when a doctor needs to know everything about the body before they can start treating it. So here is your first course on Drum Anatomy 101.

    Basic Structure

    Drum kits have four main components that make up the basic layout: a bass drum, a snare drum, a floor tom, and a mounted tom.

    This layout was made popular by the Beetles drummer Ringo Starr. Since Ringo, it has remained a staple in the drumming community. It works so well because it gives you all the basic sounds you might need. Plus, it is easy to transport and takes up the minimum amount of space.

    Most drum sets will include these components at a minimum. Fancier ones will often include additional pieces like cymbals or different types of drum heads. Many musicians will start with this basic configuration and add more accessories as they go. What you choose to add – and what brands you buy – will often be determined by the factors outlined above.

    Standard VS Fusion

    Most drum sets will be labeled as either a Fusion or Standard configuration. These are defined by the drum diameters. Fusion sets have smaller diameters and deliver a punchier tone. Standard sets have larger diameters that give a bigger tone and louder volume.

    Drum Heads

    The drum head that you play on is the batter head. The head on the other end of the drum is called the resonant head. However, drums that are made for maximum brightness and attack will have just a batter head. The material of the drum head and its thickness can have a dramatic effect on the tone and sound.

    Most drums nowadays are made with Mylar heads. Mylar is a type of plastic that is very durable and can come with either a coated or uncoated finish. Choose a coated finish for a warmer sound with less ring to it. An uncoated head is best for sharper sounds and more projection. For recording or studio purposes, coated heads tend to be preferable.

    When it comes to thickness, you can choose between one and two-ply. The thicker the head, the more controlled the sound. Thicker, two-ply heads tend to be more durable than thinner ones and tend to be favored by rock players. Single-ply heads produce a livelier sound that makes them more popular in jazz music.

    Consider Specialty Drums: Snare Drums

    No discussion of drum heads is complete without visiting the unique heads of the snare drum. A snare is a special type of drum known for its snappy, crisp sound. This signature sound comes from its snares – metal wires that are situated against the very thin, bottom head. The top head is usually thick and coated to help balance out the responsiveness of the bottom.

    Snare drums can be used in almost any type of music piece, so most drummers have at least one in their kit. They can be made from a wide variety of materials. The shell material will affect the sound it makes. Most drummers prefer a wooden snare for its slightly warmer tone.

    When it comes to choosing a snare drum, it might be best to try out a couple different ones. That way, you can see which fits best into the songs you want to play.

    Consider Specialty Drums: Electric Drums

    Electric drum kits are one of the newest innovations to hit the percussion scene. They’re rapidly gaining popularity. Yes, there are many drummers out there that feel like electric drums are a form of cheating, or that they cheapen the art of drumming. However, it’s all a matter of perspective.

    Electric drums are easily portable, have adjustable volume, and can make almost any sound imaginable. This makes them great for band practice. They’re also great for recording studios because they can plug directly into the sound mixing board.

    You can use electric sets for stage performances. However, if you do so, you’ll need to use an amp and a speaker monitor that is connected to your kit.

    To Sum It Up

    Building a drum set and buying additional pieces is a process. You’ll get better at it as your skill as a drummer grows. If you’re just starting out, remember that most kits come with four basic components: the mounted and floor toms, the bass drum, and the snare. You can buy additional pieces to widen your sound range. When buying drums for use in a band, test out drums with your other band members before you buy. This will ensure that everyone will be happy with the sound and tone range.

  • Pearl Masterworks Drum Set Review

    Pearl Masterworks - The Flagship Luxury Drum Line

    Pearl Masterworks Drums are the pinnacle of Pearl R&D.  While many drum makers offer custom drums,  Masterworks drum sets are a timeless heirloom crafted to elevate the custom drum concept to a whole new level.  We decided to take the plunge on an exceptionally elegant 4 piece rock kit with Nickel hardware in our latest video review.

    Massive Sound with Pristine Elegance

    This magnificent Masterworks kit is a bit of a contradiction.  The specs say brash rock and roll, but the attention to detail is that of fine furniture.  The kick drum is 24x14 and delivers an immediate low end punch that hits you in the chest.  The mount-less 13x9 rack tom features single point STL lugs that allow for smooth resonance.  Rounding out the set are two boomy floor toms - a 16x16 and a massive 18x16.  The 18 inch floor tom is one of the most impressive sounding drums we have ever experienced.  Period.

    Endless Exotic Shell Construction Options

    What makes the Pearl Masterworks line of custom drums so custom is the shell configuration options.  Choose from Maple, Birch, African Mahogany, Gumwood, or even create your own Composite Shells.  Shell thickness options include THIN (4-ply, 5mm w/ 4-ply Reinforcement Rings), MEDIUM (6-ply, 7.5mm), and THICK (8-ply, 10mm and 10-ply, 12.5mm).

    Pearl offers seven Artisan Exotic veneers: Cameroon Tamo, Black Limba, Flame Maple African, Zebrawood, Bubinga, Eucalyptus, and Carbonply.  They don't stop there.  They also offer a choice of interiors - Artisan Veneers, Fiberglass, and CarbonPly.

    Our Masterworks review kit is comprised of 2 plys of highly figured Tamo Ash inside and out over inner core plies of Mahogany.  This results in a truly unique sound that blends warm, round tone with immediate stick attack.  The thin shells with Mastercast hoops give this kit a sound that is similar to a Gretsch USA kit with slightly more attack.

    We Are an Authorized Pearl Masterworks Concierge Dealer

    At DCP, we are an Authorized Pearl Masterworks Concierge Dealer, that's a fancy way of saying that we can give you your best deal on the custom Masterworks drum set of your dreams.  Whether you're looking for one of their Sonic-Select Shell Recipes, or something from your own design, Drum Center of Portsmouth is your home for Pearl Masterworks drum sets!

  • Modern Takes on the Classic Ludwig Black Beauty Snare Drum

    Recreating the Magic of the 1930's Engraved Black Beauty Snare Drum

    Few snare drums are more iconic than the legendary Ludwig Black Beauty of the 1920's and 30's.  Its black nickel over brass shell set the standard for what a great snare drum should sound like.  The 12 point flower engraving made this snare drum visually stunning, as well.

    Today, you can find several examples of handmade snare drums created in the Black Beauty's iconic image.  We've put together a video comparing 3 modern snare drums that were influenced by the classic Ludwig model.  As a bonus, we included a demo of an original vintage Black Beauty from the early 1930's!

    AK Drums Black Beauty Brass Snare Drum 14x6.5 Engraved Polished Shell

    Every drum made by Adrian Kirchler is a true work of art. The detail in this custom-made piece is second to none. AK drums are all completely handmade in Italy and are not easy to come by. We waited over a year to get our hands on these beautiful instruments, and it was well worth it!

    This snare drum features a 1-piece brass shell in Gun Metal finish with traditional scroll engraving.  The shell is adorned in "pre-aged" gold hardware, completely handmade by Adrian himself.  Don't hesitate to get your hands on one of these phenomenal heirloom pieces before the opportunity is gone!

    Joyful Noise Scrolled Elite Snare Drum 14x6.5

    The JNDC Scrolled Elite is exquisitely faceted in a hand-engraved feather motif scroll. These extraordinary drums are hand-engraved by the world-renowned master drum engraver John Aldridge. Each drum is truly one-of-a-kind, both aesthetically and sonically.

    Hand-selected for their increased mass and density, the Scrolled Elite shells possess an explosive power that is literally felt. Its hardware consists of 2.5mm solid brass hoops with ten solid brass Corder tube lugs. It also features bell-flanged bearing edges and vintage-inspired crimped snare beds for an authentic vintage vibe.

    Dunnett Classic 2N Antique Brass Snare Drum 14x6.5 Engraved with Brass Trim

    The Dunnett 2N snare drum model has been a best-seller here at Drum Center of Portsmouth.  This hand-engraved model with classy brass trim takes everything up a notch.

    While the Dunnett is the most affordable of the 3 snares in this comparison, it doesn't skimp on features.  John Aldridge has painstakingly engraved the shell of this beefy snare drum, making it one of a kind.  The shell also features a thin lacquer finish that will Patina over time.  This drum will darken through the years, making it a truly desirable collector's piece!

    High-End Snare Drums are our Specialty

    At Drum Center of Portsmouth, we are known for our boutique snare drum inventory.  We carry the largest selection of the finest instruments you will find anywhere.  If you are looking for something truly special to add to your collection, look no further than the Drum Center of Portsmouth!


  • What's The Best Metal Snare Drum Under $200?

    Budget-Friendly Beats

    At Drum Center of Portsmouth, we are known for carrying the finest snare drum selection in the world.  Some cost upwards of $5,000.  Clearly, that is not the price point %99.9 of people are comfortable with.  For the rest of us, finding a quality snare drum without breaking the bank is the goal.  We've gathered three fantastic offerings for our latest comparison video to help you decide what's the best metal snare drum under $200!

    Pearl Modern Utility Steel Snare Drum - 14x6.5

    Bellowing, open, and untamed, Modern Utility Steel snare drums add fat, cracking tone to your drum set arsenal. Its thin 1mm beaded Steel shell is rolled to ring with open punch when played at full force, and speaks with a crisp sensitivity at lower impact. The finish is blasted with a satin textured coating which gives it a cool, versatile vibe. The Modern Utility features Pearl's CL arch lugs and smooth SR700 snare strainer for precise tunability. It's an exceptional primary or added snare, and brings a high-volume power to your playing voice.

    Tama Soundworks Steel Snare Drum - 14x6.5

    This Tama snare drum has a slightly thicker 1.2mm thick steel shell that provides a very powerful, cutting sound that is designed to thrive in live settings, but we've found that the Soundworks Steel snare is great in a recording situation too. If you need the bottom end that modern music requires, coupled with the high end cut to combat loud guitars, the Tama Soundworks steel at Drum Center of Portsmouth is a perfect fit for you. The high quality components make this a solid candidate for the best metal snare drum under $200.

    Ludwig Supralite Snare Drum - 14x6.5

    The last entry in our Best Snare Drum Under $200 was the Ludwig Supralite.  Supralite series snare drums also feature a thin, beaded steel shell. The hardware consists of solid chrome-over-brass tube lugs, 2.3mm triple-flanged hoops, and brass snare wires.  We are huge fans of Ludwig snare drums, and this low price offering gives you tone, volume and quality in spades.

    Your Home for Snare Drums (at any price point)

    Whether you're looking for a $200 snare drum or a $2,000 snare drum, Drum Center of Portsmouth has exactly what you're looking for.  We pride ourselves on finding the perfect instrument for YOUR needs.

  • A&F Snare Drum Showcase at Drum Center of Portsmouth

    Vintage Vibes with Modern Sounds

    A&F snare drums blend old-world craftsmanship with new world sounds.  The boutique drum company out of Austin, Texas creates instruments with exceptional sound and a beautiful aesthetic.  In their relatively short history, they have burst on the scene with a totally unique vibe unlike anything we've seen at the Drum Center of Portsmouth.  They locally source all available materials and hand-make their shells, hoops, lugs, and badges.  A&F uses Italian leather washers between anything that makes contact with the shell and hand stamp every badge for each drum with its own exclusive serial number.

    We've put together a comprehensive showcase of 10 amazing A&F snare drums we currently have in stock!

    A&F Prototype Raw Bronze Snare Drum 14x7 10-Lug

    These particular A&F Snare Drums are a Drum Center of Portsmouth EXCLUSIVE!

    This 14x7 A&F Raw Bronze Snare Drum is innovative, gorgeous, and completely handcrafted from scratch in Austin, Texas. A&F cuts, rolls, welds, and sands their own shells, then treat them with a patented oxidizing formula to jumpstart the patina process. The edge is a 45 degree cut with a 3.5" snare bed, and the drums are fitted with 10 in-house machined raw brass lugs. This deceptively heavy snare is hyper-sensitive, with a fundamentally bright and "cymbal-y" tone with projection and articulation that is second to none.

    We also included the 14x6 and 14x4 Prototype Bronze A&F Snare drums in our video showcase.

    A&F Solid Core Mahogany Snare Drum 14x6.5

    The next A&F Snare Drum tested was their exclusive 1/4 inch one-piece seamless core shell carved out of single tree trunk, hence the vertical grain! It has no re-rings, and it features their 45-degree edge and comes with A&F handmade raw brass hoops and lugs. It has a deep, throaty, woody tone with incredible snare sensitivity and response. We think this is one of the finest wood snares currently on the market!

    A&F Nickel Over Brass Snare Drum 14x4 8-Lug

    This 4x14 A&F Nickel Over Brass Snare Drum is an absolute knockout. This particular brass shell was sent to a nickel plater in Texas who's family has been plating nickel since 1930's. The edge is a 45 degree cut with a 3.5" snare bed. This deceptively heavy snare is hyper-sensitive, with a fundamentally bright and crispy tone with projection and articulation that is second to none.

    A&F Raw Brass Snare Drum 14x5 10-Lug

    This particular A&F Snare Drum is one of our best sellers.  The 14x5 Raw Brass Snare Drum has 10 lugs and projects a classic vintage brass tone with more volume than you'd expect.  Both visually and sonically stunning, this may have been our favorite recorded sound of the showcase.

    A&F Raw Steel Snare Drum 14x6.5 w/ Nickel Over Brass Hardware

    Have you ever seen a more beautiful steel snare drum?  We were absolutely blown away by this magnificent 14x6.5 Raw Steel A&F Snare Drum.  The nickle over brass hardware is a fantastic contrast to the shell's raw finish.  The tone is raw, sharp and energetic.  Simply amazing!  We also tested this raw steel shell in 14x4.5 with raw brass hardware and were equally impressed.

    A&F Steam Bent Maple Snare Drum 14x6.5 Charcoal Grey

    A&F Snare drums also include a solid maple shell in their lineup.  This 14x6.5 has a very low pitch with great sensitivity and a dry, woody tone. It comes built with A&F's raw brass hoops, 10 lugs, no reinforcement rings, 45 degree bearing edges, and a whole lot of sass!

    A&F Maple Club Snare 14x5 10 Lug Charcoal Grey

    Rounding out our A&F Snare Drum showcase is the 14x5 Maple Club snare drum in Charcoal Grey.  The Club shells are cut with an outside reverse baseball bat bearing edge and do not use re-rings. This drum is finished with patented A&F raw brass hardware. The lower mid-range tone you get when striking this drum is clean, natural, round and woody. This particular snare is 14x5 with 10 lugs.

    Drum Center of Portsmouth is Your Home for A&F Snare Drums!

    We are very excited to be carrying the A&F line at Drum Center of Portsmouth. Once you play them for yourself, you'll understand why!  If you have any questions about this high-end, boutique drum company give a call at (603)319-8109.  We are happy to help!

  • 7 Songs with a Killer Snare Drum Sound


    The snare drum brings a dynamic breadth of range to fill the frequency between cymbals and bass drum.

    A good snare will enhance a recording or performance as it intertwines and influences the whole song. A finely tuned snare drum can have a significant impact on the overall product.

    The ideal way to really capture a solid snare sound is to have a well-tuned drum, decent drummer, and a great recording room. If you are in the Portsmouth area of North Hampton, the Drum Center of Portsmouth can help with getting a great snare drum and tuning it well. The recording space and skill of the drummer will be on you!

    In the long and rich history of music, there’s certainly been standout drummers and songs. Some of those songs bring in an amazing snare sound. As you dive into appreciating the power of a snare drum, check out this list of songs with a killer snare drum sound.

    1. Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin

    Led Zeppelin is an iconic band with an iconic sound. This jam starts off with a slow-vamping guitar but it’s clear the song doesn’t take off until the 30-second mark when John Bonham’s snare enters. Guitarist Jimmy Page and lead singer Robert Plant set the stage, but the entrance of Bonham’s snare announces the real kick-off to the song. The entrance of the snare in this song shows how the snare is the most valuable player of the drum kit and an anchor to rhythm. In the right hands, like Bonham’s, the snare drum becomes as important and iconic as any guitar solo.

    2. Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana

    Smells Like Teen Spirit was the debut of new drummer Dave Grohl on a Nirvana recording, and a very strong one at that. The snare drum keeps the whole song together and keeps the audience drawn into this classic song. Even if the track feels overplayed at times due to its popularity, the snare drum continues to give a killer sound as Teen Spirit’s legacy lives on.

    3. It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) – R.E.M.

    This 1987 hit kicks off with a machine-gun delivery on the snare drum and continues to provide a rapid-fire snare sound. It is a unique sound with a military-esque “rat-a-tat” and an engaging energy that keeps the listener hooked. The drums of war are also drums of dance, making you want to jump around and attempt to memorize the rapid lyrics. The snare perfectly fits into what the song is about and keeps you hooked even as the world ends.

    4. Rock with You – Michael Jackson

    Before Michael Jackson was a zombie in the global phenomenon that was Thriller, there was 1979’s Off the Wall. This album melded genres in a smooth and easily enjoyed way. Rock with You was one of those melds that featured a really smooth and consistent snare sound. The snare at the start is an instantly recognizable introduction to one of Jackson’s most popular songs. It is so smooth and done so well a first-time listener will be tasked with deciding if this is a disco track, soulful ballad, or catchy pop-rock song. For the duration of the song, the snare and sound of Michael Jackson make the three seem almost indistinguishable.


    5. Superstition – Stevie Wonder

    The snare intro on this timeless song is instantly captivating. For many, it is the calling card of a jaunty riff that keeps its consistent vibe in the whole song. Once that snare hits, true Stevie fans know what is coming. The snare hesitation in the intro between certain notes is a preface to the funkiness that comes in this Motown classic. It is a signature number – and part of that is definitely due to the killer snare sound.

    6. Crosstown Traffic – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

    Being in Jimi Hendrix’s band meant being easily overshadowed by the genius and talent of Hendrix. However, drummer Mitch Mitchell held his own and lent his talent to the signature sound behind the guitar. In this song, he gets a shining moment on the introduction. It is a brief, propulsive sound that is iconic in the band’s history. The snare sound is pivotal, as it is in many songs, when it sets the mood between repeated notes. That mood is tension and chaos, just like the song’s confusion. The pattern continues, popping in to increase the suspense and then grant melodic catharsis when needed.

    7. We Will Rock You – Queen

    Alright, in comparison to other snare sounds, this song has a rather simplistic beat. It is an easy switch between two bass drum strokes and a hit on the snare. However, the iconic nature of this song and the importance of setting the pace for the audience is phenomenal. Queen was one of the first bands to really incorporate audience participation with thousands clapping and stomping to the beat. That participation starts and is set by the snare and bass sound on this song. From the start, drummer Roger Taylor creates a masterful snare sound that keeps the audience engaged and wanting more.

    Of course, there’s plenty of snare hits not on this list, but it is a start for those looking to get hooked on a snare. This essential piece of a drum set can be dramatic, consistent, or captivating, sometimes all at once. For many songs, it is the unifying part that gives it the hook listeners need and crave.

    It is no secret why drummers, and their snares, are pivotal to the success of the band. If you are looking to really create and perfect your snare sound, there are hundreds of options for equipment and snare drums here at Drum Center of Portsmouth.

  • How Big Should My Drum Set Be?

    Building a drum set for your unique sound requires an understanding and appreciation of all that goes into a drum kit. There are multiple drum types, materials, and set-ups that go into this instrument and each requires careful consideration and understanding.

    Having a combination of drum sizes and the right materials will go a long way in creating the sound you seek. If you are new to drumming or a seasoned expert, this is the advice you need on deciding how big your drum set should be.

    What is in a Drum Set?

    With such a variety of drum sets out there, you really need to know what parts you need and what their purpose will be in the music-making process.

    The main components are the snare drum, bass drum, one or more mounted toms, and a floor tom. Optional parts include cymbals and other hardware. If you are a beginner, a four piece with the snare, bass, and two toms will be a solid starting point as you figure out your sound.

    In terms of optional hardware, you can look into a bass drum pedal, hi-hat stand, snare stand, and cymbals. It is possible to buy all of these in a kit – a cost-effective way to build your drum set.

    Another element that is extremely important in building a drum kit is the wood and construction of each part. Many different types of wood are on the market and go far in making unique sounds. Some of those include:

    • Maple: the most popular wood for drum making with a warm, balanced tone
    • Falkata: a cheaper version of maple that delivers similar sound quantities
    • Birch: dense and tough with a bright tone as the product, really great for recording
    • Mahogany: this one is said to have a “vintage” sound and produces a warmer sound than maple
    • Poplar: produces a similar sound to birch or maple for a cheaper rate
    • Basswood: another alternative to maple or birch that gives a great lacquer finish
    • And more!

    What Type of Music Do You Play?

    One of the first steps in deciding how big a drum kit should be is to consider what type of music you are trying to play. Typically, a light jazz sound can successfully utilize a smaller kit. A larger sound requires a larger kit. So, rock music will definitely need a bigger kit for the best sound. The bass drum and toms should be in the same size range with appropriate diameter and depth.

    If you want a common drum set combination, most kits will suggest a 14” snare, 12” and 14” toms, and a 20” bass. Toms can be single rack or more. There isn’t a “right” way to combine sizes, number of drums, and other configurations. There are essentially a limitless number of ways to put together a perfect drum set.

    What Sound Do You Want?

    In line with the type of music you play, your drum set pieces will be influential in producing the right sound. Typically, the differences within a piece will go far in producing the right sound.

    For example, take a look at the snare drum. The most common snare size is 14” x 5”, which is easy to tune and play. It gives a medium tension that goes far in producing half the songs in the world. A deeper model, the 14” by 6” will have a lower frequency. It is a better option for rock or pop drum sounds. The 14” x 7” has a lower snare sound. It gives a really deep, ‘thuddy’ sound. The size of the snare depends on the intended outcome, and that goes for other drum set pieces as well.

    How Many Pieces Do You Need?

    The drum set size will be influenced by how many pieces you want. You can go with the basic four-piece option or something with more pieces to it. If you are a beginner, a four- or five-piece kit is enough to start with. Keep practicing and you can work your way up to the thirty-piece kit that rock god Neil Peart uses. One day.

    Anyway, deciding how many pieces you want be a determining factor in drum set size. One of the first additions that beginner drummers usually bring in is a second bass drum. If you are looking to create some bass-heavy sounds, two bass drums might be necessary. Learning how to use one foot pedal is a difficult task, so only go this route if you think you can commit to learning a double bass rhythm.

    What Shell Size is Right?

    Deciding this factor circles back to the type of music you want to play. The shell can be scrutinized down to the inch, but for the most part just consider:

    • Rock/standard sized kits: larger shells, better suited for rock
    • Jazz/fusion sized kits: smaller and better suited for lighter music

    What is Your Budget?

    Drum sets are not cheap and are constantly being tweaked and improved by the drummer. It is an ongoing investment rather than a one-time deal. Deciding how big or small to go will definitely need to be shaped by the budget. If the budget is low, perhaps start smaller, with a lower cost, and work your way up to a bigger kit. Don’t buy more drum than you can realistically afford. After all, if you are working overtime to pay for the upgrades, when will you have time to play?

    Ask an Expert

    At the end of the day, a drum set is personal and a reflection of the drummer. If you aren’t sure how to create the best sound, talk to an expert! At Drum Center of Portsmouth we’re ready and waiting to help you build the right drum set to get your drumming career started or spur it along. With stock reflecting everything from name brands to complete sets to individual pieces, you’ll definitely be able to build the right drum set at the right size and a great price.

  • 10 Drummers Who Notoriously Have Awesome Drum Sets


    The beat of a drum gives the heartbeat and pulse of so many of the best songs in the world.

    Whether the drummer was giving heavy-hitting beats or a smooth ensemble, their work is critical to a band or song’s success. Behind their legends are the drum sets that made their product possible.

    With a combination of skill and technological innovation, these drummers built amazing sets responsible for great music. Their drum sets were their armor and weapon all at once, capable of delivering a rhythmic victory as they pound away.

    Ready to be inspired by these drummers and their awesome drum sets?

    Gene Krupa

    No list of drummers would be complete if it didn’t give a nod to the pioneer of drumming as we know it. Krupa was responsible for essentially standardizing the modern drum kit – including using a kick drum and double-sided toms. He became a household name that inspired many in the generations to come to start drumming. His music came to life in a combination of Slingerland and the cymbal maker Armand Zildjian. The outcome was a powerful melody to set future standards. He produced a lot of jazz with swing influences, as well as introducing athleticism and creativity, which would later be influential on the drummers of rock’n’roll.

    Ringo Starr

    Part of the legendary Beatles, no one can inspire quite like Ringo Starr. His skills and understanding of rhythm remain unmatched. He would hit the stage with his Ludwig Downbeat Kit in signature Oyster Black Pearl. With ‘The Beatles’ emblazoned on the front bass, he created a visual anchor on the musical setup of the band. He and his drum set went far in creating the look and appearance of the modern drummer.

    John Bonham

    Larger-than-life drummer John Bonham left a lasting impression on the modern drumming community. He reigned as a superior drummer in the 1970s as Led Zeppelin’s drummer. He created a super-cool Ludwig Amber Vistalite kit and produced heavy-hitting, high-speed sounds on all the songs. His music is hard to imitate and remains legendary.

    Keith Moon

    The Who hit American rock’n’roll with a bang. Keith Moon continued this explosion when he literally blew up his drum kit on live TV. He is known for his off-stage antics and massive 7-piece birch Premier drum kit. This was featured in the “Pictures of Lily” in an unforgettable shade of pink. Even after blowing this kit up in 1967, Moon continued to use Premier drum kits until his death in 1978. He was very experimental for his time, being one of the first to use a double-bass kit.

    Neal Peart

    Peart became the drummer for Rush in 1974 and immediately set about creating a progressive rock sound for the band. He is well known for the intensely orchestrated drum parts he weaves into the constantly changing musical compositions. Over the years, he perfected a kit like no other. Sporting more than thirty pieces, he is a one-man orchestra behind the drum set. He carefully collaborated with manufacturers to create the drum set and unique sound he brought to Rush.

    Ginger Baker

    Another drumming revolutionary, this Cream band member brought jazz-influence with a rock feel. He had a huge sound and flamboyant persona to match. He is another progressive starter of the double kick drums. His Ludwig Silver Sparkle kit brought 22-inch and 20-inch kick drums with 14- and 16- inch toms as he wove a progressively rhythmic sound into his music. His music had a heavy African influence as he spent several years living in Nigeria, giving him an understanding of African beat few possess outside of the continent.

    Hal Blaine

    Hal Blaine is a staple in the Hollywood music industry, having recorded with many legendary performers of his time, including Elvis, Frank Sinatra, and the Beach Boys. He is the most recorded drummer in history – losing count after 35,000 sessions. In that mix included 150 top ten hits and 40 number one hits. His talent behind the drum set lies in his adaptability – as evidenced by the wide variety of musicians he recorded with. His kit is legendary – a combination between a Ludwig Classic Blue Sparkle and a mix of single-headed fiberglass concert toms.

    Mitch Mitchell

    The Jimi Hendrix Experience would not have been complete without this iconic drummer – who won the job via a coin toss against Aynsley Dunbar. He brought a fusion between jazz and ferocious riffs that were influential behind the shred of Hendrix’s guitar. As part of the Hendrix power trio, he supplied a certain level of improvisation. He could bring a heavy groove capable of flowing as a structured counterpoint to Hendrix’s guitar.

    Tommy Ramone

    The Ramones have a decidedly punk rock sound aided by the rocket-power drumming speed of Tommy Ramone. The entire band blended great songs with electric guitars and lighting-level drumming. Ramone started out as one of the engineers behind Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys album before diving into rock fame with The Ramones. He was well known not just for an all-white Rogers drum kit, but also for his signature black sunglasses and black leather jacket. His recorded performances almost didn’t do justice to his unrivaled live performances – especially the legendary Live at the Rainbow NYE 1977 performance. He is an unreal drummer in terms of speed and precision.

    Elvin Jones

    This man provided a signature musical force behind some of the great jazz musicians – like Miles Davis and John Coltrane. His music and drumming style was unique, expressive, and powerful. He utilized smaller 18-inch kick drum, as well at Gretsch drums and the Zildjian K-series cymbals. The result was a unique sound – particularly influenced by his use of cymbals. He produced a sound akin to ocean waves while never losing time or rhythm.

    The list of drummers and their sets could go on – but this list of influential drummers is a solid start. From the early days of Gene Krupa to more contemporary names, there’s been a lot of influence and change in the drumming community. Many of these drummers drew inspiration from the sounds created by the artists before them. If you are feeling inspired and ready to build your own notoriously awesome drum set, check out our Drum Sets and get started today!

  • Sonor Snare Drum Shootout!

    150 Years of German Precision

    Nothing sounds like a Sonor snare drum.  For nearly 150 years, Sonor has been crafting some of the finest percussion instruments available.  If you ask anyone at the shop what their go to sound is, many of us will say it's Sonor.  Most of us own (at least) one Sonor.

    What makes Sonor Snare Drums so unique?  To start, they hand craft their high end lines the way they have been doing for decades.  Unique shell construction using proprietary molds produce slightly undersized shells.  This allows for the drum head to float on the bearing edge, yielding greater resonance and sensitivity.  Sonor snare drums have an incredible dynamic range.  At the slightest touch the drums open up and produce clear tone.  The high quality components and gorgeous finish options make these drums as beautiful to look at as they are to play.


    Sonor SQ2 Beech Snare Drum 13x5.5 Birdseye Maple

    This handsome little guy features a heavy beech shell that projects crisp, clear tone.  It has beautiful birdseye gloss veneer on the outside, and a matching veneer inside!  18-Strand steel wires and 2.3mm Power Hoops allow the beefy shell to breathe and articulate.

    Sonor SQ2 Maple Snare Drum 13x7 Scandinavian Birch w/ Gold Hardware

    Our next SQ2 snare drum is quite stunning with its eye-catching gold hardware.  The versatile 13x7 heavy maple shell packs a a ton of powerful pop with some serious mid range tone.  With matching Scandinavian Birch veneers inside and out, this is one of the most beautiful examples of SQ2 craftsmanship you'll find.

    Sonor One Of A Kind Maple/Beech Snare Drum 13x7 Mango

    This 9-ply, 7mm maple/beech blended shell is veneered inside and out with a ply of elegant vertical mango wood. Combine this deep, thin shell with triple flanged hoops, 45 degree bearing edges, precision snare beds, and Dual Glide Strainer, and you have a staggeringly dynamic, world-class instrument that sounds as good as it looks. Seriously, the level of detail on the badge alone will blow your mind. Just 99 of these were produced worldwide, and they come with a luxurious custom Hardcase and "Welcome Box". It takes a lot to stand out on the Drum Center of Portsmouth showroom floor, and these immaculate instruments might just be the crown jewel in our collection!

    Sonor Phonic Reissue Beech Snare Drum 14x5.75 Rosewood

    Sonor Phonic reissue snare drums are faithful recreations of the legendary Sonor beech shell snare drums of yesteryear. Boasting a 14x5.75, 12-ply beech shell with a rosewood gloss veneer, this snare drum is meant to stand out both sonically and visually! The beech shell provides a sound that is classic Sonor; balanced and versatile, with a warm low-mid body and controlled overtones. Ten Phonic lugs, German die cast hoops, slotted rods, classic Phonic strainer, and 20-strand steel wires round out the vintage experience this drum offers. Get your hands on one of these beautiful Sonor Phonic drums at Drum Center of Portsmouth today!

    Sonor SQ2 Heavy Maple Snare Drum 14x6 Ebony Gloss

    This 14x6 combines many of our favorite Sonor specs into one beefy drum.  A heavy maple shell, ebony gloss veneer, and the fattest diecast hoops in the industry makes this drum visually and sonically stunning.  With articulation and volume to spare, this may be the only snare drum you'll ever need.

    Sonor SQ2 Maple Snare Drum 14x6.5 Signal Grey

    This Medium Maple Sonor SQ2 Snare drum is a well-rounded workhorse.  We ordered this Signal Grey lacquer finish from their RAL color options list.  Man, were we pleased when we saw it in person.  This drum features triple flanged hoops and 24-strand steel wires that give it extra sensitivity.

    Sonor Phonic Reissue Beech Snare Drum 14x6.5 Mahogany

    This Phonic Reissue has a 14x6.5, 9-ply beech shell with a mahogany veneer in matte finish.  Like the 5.75 we tested earlier, the beech shell projects a sound with drier body and balanced overtones. Ten Phonic lugs, German die cast hoops, slotted rods, classic Phonic strainer, and 20-strand steel wires round out the vintage experience this drum offers.  This may be our favorite recorded sound from the video.

    Sonor SQ2 Beech Snare Drum 14x8 Gloss Rosewood

    We saved the biggest, and possibly best, for last.  A few of us have owned some version of this 14x8 heavy beech shell.  It simply has all the low end tone and beefy projection you could ask for, along with surprising sensitivity.  This particular Sonor SQ2 has an immaculate Gloss Rosewood finish on the exterior along with a matching matte veneer inside!  Diecast hoops and 24-strand steel wires round out this monstrous beauty.

    Drum Center of Portsmouth has YOUR Sonor Waiting for You!

    We know Sonor drums, and we carry a massive selection in stock at all times.  If you are looking for a German engineered instrument that will do it all, look no further than Sonor.  Get it from the pros at Drum Center of Portsmouth!

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